By Andy McDonald, vice president of operations, Salucro.
Every profession has its own ‘bucket list’ — a collection of goals that people aim to achieve during their career. For revenue cycle leaders in healthcare, their bucket list items tend to center on strategic objectives designed to modernize the healthcare financial experience, enhance the patient experience, and streamline operations.
As vice president of operations at Salucro, a payment technology company exclusively focused in the healthcare space, I talk to clients, partners, and revenue cycle leaders every day and these are five of the most common priorities I hear:
- Upgrading and Consolidating Revenue Cycle Tools
With the complexity of modern health systems comes a continuous influx of new technologies designed to optimize revenue cycle management. But the key to truly reaping the benefits of these advancements lies not in simply adopting the latest tool on the market, but in integrating and streamlining these solutions into a single, efficient system.
Patients have also begun to recognize the digital shift in their financial experience, with 93% saying they expect healthcare providers to use more and more technology to collect payments, according to a recent report.
The integration and consolidation of tools can dramatically improve the productivity of your staff. When they are spending less time navigating multiple systems, rectifying errors, and piecing together data from different sources, they can focus more on enhancing the patient financial experience and other high-value tasks that cannot be automated.
- Improving the Patient Financial Experience
The patient experience encompasses all touchpoints of a patient’s journey, from the first call to schedule an appointment to the final payment transaction. Patients expect and deserve a seamless, intuitive, and personalized experience at each of these touchpoints – and with 50% of patients stating that their last billing encounter was bumpy, painful, or confusing, the quality experience that providers strive to offer doesn’t always carry throughout the full patient journey.
Leveraging technology can greatly enhance the patient experience. According to a 2023 survey of healthcare consumers throughout the U.S., 62% of patients pay their bills by credit or debit card via an online patient portal. These digital platforms not only cater to the modern patient’s preference for online interactions, but also help to improve revenue cycle efficiency.
Revenue cycle tools can automate patient communications, ensuring that patients receive timely billing notifications and follow-up messages. Survey data shows that patients are responding positively to these tools, as 51% of patients said a text message reminder would prompt them to pay their bill faster.
- Optimizing Training for Team Members
While automation and technology undoubtedly play a crucial role in improving the revenue cycle, it’s important to remember that at the core of any successful system are its people. Effective and continuous training is a vital aspect of any successful revenue cycle management strategy.
It’s not uncommon for revenue cycle processes to become more complex as we strive for efficiency and accuracy. As a result, the need for staff to understand and navigate these processes increases. When selecting a new technology vendor, remember that these solutions should complement your existing workflows and integrate seamlessly with your systems and EHR. Getting this critical step wrong could cost your team serious time and money.
By investing in comprehensive and ongoing training programs, and working with your technology partners, you can ensure your team is up to date with the latest technology, processes, and best practices.
- Reviewing and Automating Processes
Every process in your revenue cycle is a potential candidate for automation, but the key lies in identifying the right ones. Begin by conducting a thorough review of your existing processes, looking out for tasks that are repetitive, time-consuming, and prone to human error.
Patient financial communications are a prime candidate for automation, and if this strategy is done correctly, it could mean more referrals for your organization. 52% of patients would recommend their provider based on their billing communication efforts.
Automation is not about replacing humans; rather, it’s about enabling your team to perform at their best. By automating routine tasks, you empower your team to focus on tasks that require human influence, like patient interactions and problem-solving.
- Becoming More Cost-Effective
In an environment of constant change and increasing financial pressure, one of the overarching goals that revenue cycle officers invariably have on their bucket list is achieving greater cost-effectiveness. It’s not just about trimming expenses – it’s about investing in areas that yield substantial return, optimizing resources, and eliminating inefficiencies that drain valuable funds.
Here are some key strategies revenue cycle officers are using to transform the operations and financial health of their organization:
Modernizing Workflows with Automation: Shift from manual to automated processes for a smarter, faster, and error-free revenue cycle.
Choosing Integrated Revenue Cycle Tools: Choose revenue cycle management tools that seamlessly integrate with your existing EHR and other essential platforms.
Fostering a High-Performing Team: Invest in creating an environment that fosters engagement, learning, and productivity among your team members.
Placing Patients at the Heart of Your Strategy: From clear communication about bills to easy-to-use payment options, patient-focused strategies can help to encourage quicker payments and improve patient satisfaction, thereby boosting revenue and reducing the cost of debt recovery efforts.
Checking Off an Ambitious Bucket List
Every revenue cycle officer’s professional bucket list is a diverse roadmap of aspirations aiming to transform healthcare financial management, enhance patient experiences, and drive cost-effectiveness.
As we navigate the healthcare revenue cycle, let’s stay focused on these key priorities, continually seeking ways to innovate, integrate, and elevate the patient financial experience. Only then can we deliver the best possible service to our patients while ensuring operational efficiency and growth.